SBDC Day supports the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) that support the country’s small businesses. First proclaimed in 2017, SBDC Day is led by America’s SBDC, representing a network of roughly 1,000 centers nationwide.
The West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC) is celebrating SBDC Day on March 17 by showcasing achievements of the past year and highlighting client success stories.
WV SBDC’s 2020 Snapshot Report recounts achievements that outperformed the program’s goals:
New businesses started: 97, exceeding the goal by 113%.
Jobs supported: 6,443, exceeding the goal by 141%.
Dollar amount of loans/equity: $46.6 million in capital funding obtained for clients, exceeding the goal by 157%.
Clients served: 2,371, exceeding the goal by 187%.
“These statistics represent the people who came to us with their business dreams, needs and ambitions,” said WV SBDC Director Debra Martin. “Our mission is to help West Virginia’s entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed at every stage of their businesses lifecycles.”
The success of those efforts is reflected in another statistic noted in the 2020 Snapshot Report: an increase of $3.9 million in client sales.
Small business looms large in West Virginia economy
The basic definition of a small business is a privately-owned company with fewer than 500 employees. The 2020 U.S. Small Business Administration profile for West Virginia reports that 98.9% of the state’s businesses are small. Those small businesses employ 49.1% of working West Virginians.
WV SBDC delivers expert services through statewide network of business coaches
WV SBDC’s one-on-one business coaching, training and connections to financial, technological, and other resources contribute to the success of the state’s small businesses. Much of that work is carried out by business coaches.
WV SBDC serves all 55 counties through 14 centers distributed across the state. The centers are staffed with WV SBDC business coaches, many of whom have been entrepreneurs themselves. A growing number of coaches – up to 10 as of the 2020 Snapshot Report – have attained Certified Business Advisor (CBA) certificates by completing graduate-level, e-learning courses through the accredited Kent State University.
Small business owners in West Virginia can take advantage of WV SBDC business coach expertise at no cost. Business owners can get connected with a business coach through the Ask Me! Line:
Rendering recovery assistance
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and impacted small business communities throughout the nation. West Virginia was no exception. Here’s how WV SBDC responded:
Over 1,500 clients have received disaster-related counseling.
$27.4 million disaster-related funding was approved.
The WV SBDC CARES Business Recovery Project offers technical assistance to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consulting partners cooperate with the SBDC coaching network to provide supplemental expertise for small businesses dealing with supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, a drop in gross receipts or customers, or a closure because of the pandemic.
New programs launch
In 2019, WV SBDC introduced two related programs aimed at the state’s innovative and technology-centered small businesses: WV SBDC Innovation-Technology Program (In-Tech) and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Investment Fund.
In-Tech offers services from basic business modeling, prototype development assistance, product evaluation, business planning and application assistance for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards.
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Investment Fund offers an opportunity for West Virginia-based businesses who receive SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II awards to apply for a state matching funds.
In the first year, the 2020 Snapshot Report notes that the WV SBDC In-Tech program counted:
15 outreach events/workshops to help “demystify” the SBIR-STTR program, encourage more applications from West Virginia entrepreneurs, and provide access to resources for SBIR-STTR proposal development.
301 SBIR-STTR training participants.
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Investment Fund tallied:
13 SBIR/STTR Phase Zero Awards, granted for $32,500.
3 SBIR/STTR Phase 1 Awards, granted for $198,249. These state funds matched or leveraged $323,248 in federal SBIR/STTR funds.
2 SBIR/STTR Phase 2 Awards, granted for $400,000. These state funds matched or leveraged $3,659,578 in federal SBIR/STTR funds.
One of the Phase II recipients is Iconic Air, a new company developed by West Virginia University engineering students Kyle Gillis and James Carnes. Iconic Air won a $700,000 contract with the U.S. Air Force.
Iconic Air cofounder and chief executive officer Gillis credited the WV SBDC program with helping the company access available resources and expertise.
“The SBDC does an amazing job, sending people around the state to talk about the SBIR grants and explaining what they are, why they are valuable, and everything in between,” he said.